Department of Health

Handwashing with soap and water

  • Duration: 01:42

Many infectious diseases, including COVID-19, can be spread by unclean hands.

Cleaning your hands is one of the most important things you can do to prevent the spread of germs and infectious diseases.

You can clean your hands with either soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.

Although you should always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

You should clean your hands:

  • before and after putting on and taking off a mask
  • after using the toilet
  • after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • after handling waste
  • and after contact with people or pets

This is how you should wash your hands with soap and water.

  1. Wet your hands with water.
  2. Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces.
  3. Continue thoroughly rubbing your hands for about as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
  4. Once finished, rinse the soap off your hands with water.
  5. Then thoroughly dry your hands with a cloth, paper towel or hand dryer.
  6. Then turn off the taps.

Remember, cleaning your hands properly is a simple way to help you and others stay safe and well.

Reviewed 12 May 2022